Monday, 4 December 2017
I seek leave to move a motion to vary the order of the Senate of 30 November 2017, relating to the hours of meeting and routine of business.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice of motion standing in the name of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to vary the order of the Senate of 30 November 2017, relating to the hours of meeting and routine of business, and that it may be moved immediately and determined without amendment or debate.
The purpose of the motion, for the moving of which leave is sought, is self-explanatory. This is, as we all know, the last sitting week of the year. The government has a great deal of business to get through that has been notified—it's on the Notice Paperand the government seeks to vary the order of business so as to most efficiently dispose of that business and to move on to other legislation. If we look at today's red, we can see there are very urgent and important bills to be considered, including, for example, the Regional Investment Corporation Bill 2017, which is a bill upon which a lot of people in regional communities have a lot riding. There are other bills on the Notice Paper too that the government consider need to be deliberated upon and we seek urgent passage of this week.
We really had this debate last week. The point I made in the debate then is the same point I make now—that it is for the government to determine the government's legislative agenda. We acknowledge the fact that of course on occasions the Senate will have other views, and that general proposition does admit of exceptions. Nevertheless, given the busyness on the Notice Paper in this final sitting week, it is the desire of the government to reorder the priorities as set out in the Senate order of 30 November in this respect, which is why the government seeks support of the Senate for this motion.
I understand that the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition is that the opposition will not support this. I think that is regrettable, because it disrespects the convention that the government should have the principal say in the ordering of business. Nevertheless, we do respectfully ask those who sit on the crossbench to respect the orthodox conventional position that the government should, especially in the busy final week of the year, have the principal right to indicate the order of business for the Senate's consideration. I don't want to detain the Senate any longer, so I will leave it at that. We ask the crossbench for their favourable consideration of the government's wishes.